When it comes to arts and crafts festivals, community cultural celebrations, musical weekends and summer theater, South Dakota really is the land of infinite variety. Our state has a full calendar of cultural events, many of them happening within an easy drive from where you live.
As we discuss the future of the National Endowment for the Arts and its impact on rural states like South Dakota, it’s encouraging that the New York Times sent Michael Cooper to our state to interview arts organization leaders and citizens to assess that impact.
According to Cooper, “Mostly rural states like South Dakota could have outsize importance in deciding the fate of the endowment... South Dakota, which has fewer than a million people, received the fifth-highest amount of federal arts money per person in the nation last year, and the endowment’s generally small grants can have a bigger impact here than they would at the Metropolitan Operas of the world.”
The story talked about Shakespeare at the Matthews Opera House in Spearfish; discussed the appeal of the Rolling Rez Arts, an airport shuttle bus that has been transformed into a mobile art classroom and art gallery for Pine Ridge and other reservations, and recent exhibitions at the Dahl Arts Center, which logs 35,000 visitors each year. Cooper also visited with the music director of the Black Hills Symphony Orchestra, who pointed out that state arts council grants “supported concerts which drew some 5,700 people last year and school activities which reached more than 2,000 students.” Spotlighting these South Dakota arts organizations, each of which receive funding from the National Endowment through grants from the South Dakota Arts Council, the story clearly illustrates that many arts experiences would hot happen without the support of federal funding.
This kind of national attention for our creative scene is gratifying, and reminds us of the quality of the arts in South Dakota. It also underscores the value of the National Endowment for the Arts to our state. As the state which received the “fifth-highest amount of federal arts money per person in the nation last year,” we get an incredible return on our investment here in South Dakota. In fact, we spend 46¢ per capita—and receive $1.50 per capita back from Washington in the form of NEA grants. That’s sound business—and a resource we can’t afford to lose.
Your advocacy for this critical federal-state partnership that brings the arts and artists to young audiences across South Dakota is needed now! Let our leaders know that the NEA is vital to a creative South Dakota. To read the New York Times complete article, go to our Advocacy page at www.artssouthdakota.org/advocacy.html. To connect with our Congressional delegation or learn more about Arts South Dakota programs, join us online at www.ArtsSouthDakota.org.
As I think about the deep and lasting impact of the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) and South Dakota Arts Council in our state, friend and fellow musician Jami Lynn immediately comes to mind. I’ve worked with Jami on many occasions and she has often talked about her love of being a South Dakotan and joy in sharing her art “at home.”
Folk singer/songwriter Jami Lynn Buttke first gained an appreciation for music in a small South Dakota elementary school. Today she is a professional performer of bluegrass and folk music, and brings her exuberance and musical talent into state classrooms as a roster artist with the South Dakota Arts Council’s Artists in Schools & Communities program. She believes in the power of the arts because of her own story of discovery.
“My personal experience with the Arts Council’s impact on our rural schools began at Koch Elementary in Milbank. I had probably seen a cello and violin on television because, although we only had four channels on the farm, one of them was PBS,” Buttke said. “But I had never seen or heard orchestra instruments in person until the South Dakota Arts Council helped bring a string quartet to our school for a lyceum. I was enamored with the sound, the style of playing and the music that echoed around our packed gymnasium. I had never experienced anything like it. The resonance of the strings, and how their sound vibrated in my chest, was life-changing. I didn’t know it yet but I was going to be a string player, and that experience in fourth grade was pivotal.”
Buttke finds that the magic and power of artists traveling to South Dakota communities is as strong today as when she was a grade school kid.
“The sound that comes out of elementary school kids when they see a banjo in person for the first time is excellent,” she said. “It’s one of those sharp inhalations of disbelief, like I’ve just done three back flips in a row. The sound kids make when they hold a banjo for the first time is silence. Most of them haven’t had the opportunity to see, hear or hold a banjo before, and it’s cool to see how it affects them. We need to make sure South Dakota students continue to discover music in this very personal way.”
Your advocacy for this critical federal-state partnership that brings the arts and artists to young audiences across South Dakota is needed now! Let our leaders know that the NEA is vital to a creative South Dakota. To connect with our Congressional delegation or learn more about Arts South Dakota programs, join us online at www.ArtsSouthDakota.org.
When a third grader in Kadoka discovers she can write a poem, when a junior high assembly in Britton hears live jazz for the first time and when an entire community turns out to admire their new Main Street mural, we know the arts are alive in South Dakota.
One reason those life-altering arts experiences are happening is that individuals—teachers, school administrators and community leaders—are working to connect with the programs that make sure the arts are accessible across our state. Another reason is the continued support of the South Dakota Legislature, realizing that the arts are vital to learning and to our cultural environment. But without the nurturing wellspring of federal dollars, brought to South Dakota through grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, many of these experiences may not happen.
In rural states like ours, with hundreds of small communities spread throughout a large geographic area, a state arts agency like the South Dakota Arts Council is vital. The SD Arts Council combines the federal dollars from the National Endowment for the Arts with the matching funds from the South Dakota Legislature through the Department of Tourism to bring artists to schools and communities and touring arts programs to all corners of our state. Federal funding from NEA even helps to keep our cultural heritage alive, thanks to specific grants for traditional arts apprenticeships that ensure a new generation of flute makers, hoop dancers and prairie fiddlers.
Last year, the South Dakota Arts Council brought 51 artists to 100 communities for 220 weeks of residencies, connecting students and local residents with South Dakota’s working creative people. The Touring Arts program made possible 190 events in 165 communities, serving 22,725, including 12,332 young people. That’s bringing the arts to people in places where, prior to Arts Council programs, those opportunities did not exist.
We need to take steps to ensure that communities across South Dakota continue to have opportunities to meet artists, and that students are always able to learn they can become artists themselves. On March 21, SD Artist Laureate Dale Lamphere, SDAC’s Patrick Baker and Rebecca Cruse and I will be traveling to Washington, DC to share this important story with South Dakota’s Congressional delegation. Join us in letting our Congressional delegation know that, here in South Dakota, the support of the National Endowment for the Arts to our creative future is not a luxury, but a necessity.
To connect with our Congressional delegation or learn more about Arts South Dakota programs, join us online at www.ArtsSouthDakota.org.
Recently Americans for the Arts conducted a public opinion poll which provides an in-depth look at perceptions and attitudes about the arts in our country.
One of the most significant findings came in the question asking if people agree with the statement “Art institutions add value to our communities.” The survey showed 87% agree the arts are important to the quality of life, and 83% agree they are important to local businesses and the economy. And South Dakota proves those statistics.
South Dakota communities are proud of their unique identities, and promote their cultural heritage in creative ways. Heritage festivals and arts activities throughout the year make our hometowns family-friendly and culturally enriched. In addition, in many South Dakota towns, the local school is a community focus, with concerts, plays and performances of all kinds as major attractions that bring people—and dollars—to Main Street.
Galleries and gift shops are part of the cultural tourism industry that draws visitors to community events, one of the ways in which the arts add dollars to each local economy. The creative industry is strong in South Dakota, with artists and craftspeople enhancing the lives of their fellow citizens and paying taxes to support their home communities and state.
Throughout the state, professional musicians, painters, sculptors, dancers, actors and so many more are building careers in South Dakota. Their connection to audiences and art lovers says something vital about our state and its support of our creative industry.
Another question asked for opinions on the statement, “The arts provide meaning to our lives.” In response, 73% agree the arts are a positive experience in a troubled world, 64% agree the arts give them pure pleasure to experience and participate in, and 63% agree the arts lift them beyond everyday experiences.
Whether it’s singing in the local choir, attending a play at the high school or taking in a concert by your favorite musician, the arts take you outside yourself. Our art experiences are personal, from creating a painting or playing an instrument to reading South Dakota authors. Pleasure and an escape from the ordinary are the gifts that art experiences bring to each of us. And sharing those experiences builds our cultural bond.
The arts transform people and communities every day. To learn more about how the arts impact all of our lives each day, browse more findings from the Americans for the Arts’ Public Opinion Poll at www.AmericansForTheArts.org/PublicOpinion. For more about Arts South Dakota, join us online at www.ArtsSouthDakota.org.
Every two years, South Dakotans are given the opportunity to shine a spotlight on those individuals and organizations that have achieved significant accomplishments in the arts. The Governor’s Awards in the Arts dramatically illustrate the diversity, commitment and talent of South Dakota’s creative community.
Take the case of Ward Whitwam, this year’s awardee for Distinction in Creative Achievement. An architect and native of South Dakota, Whitwam designed the concrete tipis that mark our state’s rest areas on the interstate highway—a landmark for travelers since 1958, a source of pride for residents and a respectful homage to the state’s Native American heritage. His unique design and the engineering that made it come to life exemplify the artistic vision and Dakota pride shared by all the winners of the Governor’s Awards.
Governor Daugaard will present five awards on February 15 in Pierre. In addition to Whitwam’s creative achievement award, Steve Babbitt will be honored for Outstanding Service in Arts Education; Graham and Anna Marie Thatcher are this year’s recipients for Outstanding Support of the Arts by Individuals; Mobridge City Government will receive the award for Outstanding Support of the Arts by an Organization, and recently retired South Dakota Arts Council director Michael Pangburn will be given an honorary award for Outstanding Service to the Arts Community. The event will also highlight the Living Indian Treasure Award presented to nationally renowned flutist Bryan Akipa.
These honorees are chosen from dozens of nominations made by community arts leaders in every part of South Dakota. Nominees are artists, local arts advocates, corporate citizens who believe in our state’s creative future and educators who are ensuring that the legacy of arts education is part of every child’s day. All are hard at work throughout South Dakota, and all are worthy of recognition. Every two years, Arts South Dakota chooses a handful to spotlight, knowing there are so many more building our state’s cultural heritage.
These awards say as much about South Dakotans as they do about the quality of our creative environment. We honor our arts leaders and understand that their work makes our state a better place for all its citizens.
For more about the Governor’s Awards or other Arts South Dakota programs, join us online at www.ArtsSouthDakota.org.
During the past 50 years, South Dakota residents have been active partners with the South Dakota Arts Council in strengthening our state’s creative diversity through membership in the arts advocacy organization. Organized to fuel the growth of the arts through citizen participation, Arts South Dakota is giving YOU a voice in our cultural future.
This year was a busy one for Arts South Dakota. Nearly one hundred art instructors from across South Dakota attended the summer Arts Education Institute, returning to their classrooms with renewed creative passion and ideas to share with their students. The weekly Arts Events Email includes fantastic opportunities to experience local and international arts events throughout the state. Arts South Dakota members share in the celebration of South Dakota’s creative culture three times a year in the only statewide arts-focused publication, Arts Alive.
Throughout this past summer and fall, Arts South Dakota and the South Dakota Arts Council have jointly visited many of you in your hometowns. Arts Council Executive Director Patrick Baker and I have been warmly welcomed and experienced shining examples of the power of the arts to bring us together, to link cultures and to share common experiences. Connecting with you on a personal level is what Arts South Dakota is all about.
In 2017, Arts South Dakota will host the Governor’s Awards in the Arts. Join us in Pierre on February 15 to honor individuals and organizations for creative achievement, outstanding service to arts education and exemplary support of the arts. Also awarded at the Governor’s Awards is the Living Indian Treasure Award, created to continue the Native American tradition of honoring elders. Arts South Dakota is also celebrating the 50th Anniversary of the South Dakota Arts Council with an anniversary edition of Arts Alive, along with a special 50th anniversary video posted to our website.
You can be part of all this creative excitement by becoming a member of Arts South Dakota. You create, you volunteer, you attend and you support. YOU are the reason the arts happen in our communities. Learn more about becoming a member or join us online at www.ArtsSouthDakota.org.
As we celebrate 50 years of arts support in South Dakota, it’s important to realize that people from every walk of life are responsible for the vitality of our state’s creativity. From teachers to legislators, from community leaders to musicians, painters, dancers and actors, thousands have participated in the ever-expanding creative energy in South Dakota.
State officials, governors and elected representatives have supported programs and grants to fuel the growth of the arts in our state ever since the creation of the South Dakota Arts Council in 1966. The state has instituted an Art for State Buildings Collection that is growing an enviable selection of works that are displayed to the public—and also supports working artists in South Dakota.
Beginning in the 1970s, residency artists began traveling our state, bringing their creative skills to classrooms and communities, sharing their talents with South Dakotans of all ages. The Artists In Schools & Communities program is still bringing working artists to communities that might not otherwise have that experience—and inspiring a new generation of artists at the same time. Our teachers are also becoming inspired at the annual Arts Education Institute, which shares great ideas for creativity in the classroom.
During the past 50 years of organized cultural support, South Dakota has seen the creation of symphony orchestras, theater companies, museums and much, much more—many of them supported by grants from the South Dakota Arts Council. In the same spirit, communities have organized local arts councils, to sponsor events, mentor young artists and gather their hometowns around the concept of creativity and cultural heritage.
In this time of giving thanks, we can all appreciate the hard work, dedication and creative commitment of the people who have made our state a cultural tourism destination and a place where the arts flourish. Because South Dakotans care about creativity in daily life, our state can be proud of our cultural past and enthusiastic about our creative future.
For more about the arts in South Dakota, visit ArtsSouthDakota.org.
On September 17, South Dakotans of all cultures from across the state gathered in Chamberlain with Governor Daugaard, sculptor Dale Lamphere and the family of Norm and Eunabel McKie to dedicate our state’s newest monumental sculpture, the 50 foot tall image of a Native American woman. Called Dignity by her creator, South Dakota Artist Laureate Lamphere, the stainless steel work of art towers above I-90 on the Missouri River bluff that is home to the Chamberlain traveler’s information center.
A representation of a Lakota woman wrapping a star quilt around her, Dignity speaks to the heart of Native traditions. The sculpture is a symbol of South Dakota’s cultural hearthstone and links past and present in its subject matter and its 21st century engineering and materials. More importantly, the work links our vastly diverse ethnic cultures here on the prairie. Dignity gives us the opportunity to honor the Native heritage of our state, while recognizing all of those who built a new life between the vast sea of grass and the soaring Black Hills.
The dedication ceremony also told another story. I saw Lakota youth in their powwow regalia staring up at Dignity with pride and a sense of awe. Veterans saw the values they fought to protect in the towering strength of Dignity. Governor Daugaard spoke for all South Dakotans, including Dignity with Mount Rushmore and Crazy Horse as icons of our state. These epic artworks are destinations for visitors and sources of pride for South Dakota residents.
That is the power of the arts. People of all ages from all cultures can see something vital, something important, something South Dakotan, in this soaring sculpture on its bluff near Chamberlain. As a work of art, Dignity has both strength and grace. As a symbol of our united heritage, it has the ability to move each of us. And that is what creativity is all about.
To learn more about Dignity, go to www.lampherestudio.com/dignity. For more about the arts in South Dakota, visit www.ArtsSouthDakota.org.
When you think of “the arts,” what comes to mind? Maybe you think of museums or a symphony orchestra or a famous painting hanging in a big city gallery. Maybe you think of wildlife photography or a jazz concert or perhaps a Broadway musical. Here in South Dakota, I think of the two pieces of iconic art that in a way define our state, Crazy Horse and Mount Rushmore. I hear the songs of Hank Harris and see prairie life in Mary Groth’s paintings. I remember listening to Bryan Akipa perform the oldest known song to be played on the flute while watching the stars come out over Clear Lake.
The arts are everywhere! And that is especially true in South Dakota. We live in a place that abounds with creativity. Since men and women first etched sweeping outlines of animals on the cliffs of the Southern Black Hills, we have been a species uniquely driven to create. We tell our stories through the arts. Whether it’s music, dance, visual arts, theater or literature, the arts are perhaps the most important way of remembering and defining a civilization.
And let’s not forget, the arts are fun! Regardless of whether we sit in a darkened theater, laughing or weeping with the scenes created for our entertainment, or sit alone at a piano, feeling the music fill our being, we’re having fun. We dance with joy, sing with passion and live life fully through the arts.
Another incredible fact is that the arts are in each and every one of us. Critics may have more to say about Picasso than about the magic marker masterpiece on your refrigerator, but it’s all art. And our appreciation of creativity—from the museum to the school play to the bluegrass concert to the current best seller--is based on our own personal love of the arts.
So what are the arts? The arts are being human, seeing beauty, hearing music, telling stories, moving joyously, creating in whatever way inspires you. Creativity is everywhere and I encourage us all to go out and experience it. Celebrate and support the arts in your community!
For more about the arts in South Dakota, visit ArtsSouthDakota.org.